Dave White
Enough Said Review

Dave's Rating:

4.0

Gandolfini's sweet swan song

Rich people are annoying and Nicole Holofcener knows it. So it's fitting that, after films exploring issues of privilege and wealth, Please Give and Friends With Money, the left-coast interrogator of upscale urban neuroses is feeling a little more generous toward her leads and giving them grounded, unglamorous jobs. Eva (Julia Louis Dreyfuss) is a massage therapist and Albert (James Gandolfini) is a television archive librarian. They still live in the fancier part of Los Angeles, they still have comfortable lives, they don't worry about making rent or the mortgage, but their mundane troubles automatically feel less self-indulgent.

This is important because, above all else, Enough Said is a cuddly experience that insists on your affection and goodwill. Eva and Albert are divorced people wary of love who find themselves drawn toward one another anyway. The wrinkle in that plan is Catherine Keener, as Eva's new massage client Marianne. The two become friends, exchanging stories about their ex-husbands, with Marianne especially complaining about her fat, lumpen, "loser" of a former spouse... who is Albert.

At this point a lesser movie would focus strictly on the countdown to its characters discovering the goofy truth. It's a sitcom premise, the kind frequently found on the idiotic end of the romantic comedy spectrum, the kind Holofcener has avoided in the past. And if that sounds like a misstep, it probably would be in the hands of most other filmmakers. Holofcener, though, knows her people well and she also knows that revealing the secret to those characters will just add an extra layer to the details she's already using to tell her story. The truth is that there didn't even need to be a secret for these folks to learn; the real story is about perception and reality, envy and aspiration, shallow infatuation with status and privileging the opinions of those we admire vs semi-confidently making our own decisions about how we'll live life.

It's a funny, smart movie more interested in the dynamics of human interaction than it is in getting to a third act friendship crisis, and along the way it asks questions most comedies aren't interested in at all: what's more important to Eva, a budding romance with a man she thinks she could love or friendship with a woman whose life, home and possessions she envies? And whose perceptions are more trustworthy, the woman who was once married to an earlier version of Albert or the woman who has him now? Are his personality tics endearing or grating? Is he complacent? Is he great sex like Eva claims or is he as awkward and dull in bed as Marianne remembers? Is he too fat? Is any amount of fat too fat? These are Holofcener's ongoing concerns and, in a film landscape where beauty is rigidly defined for both genders, rarely discussed outside of low-brow comedies that remind audiences that irregular or larger bodies are laughable, her refusal to quit talking about it is just one reason she's worthy of attention.

And in the end, it's the performances that push it all from admirable to lovable. Keener, a Holofcener regular, is sympathetic and still prickly, Dreyfuss carries her sitcom past with her but discards it when the story calls for more complex responses, and Gandolfini's romantic lead is the anti-Tony Soprano, kind and wise, self-assured and vulnerable. The two seem to truly enjoy one another's company and it makes us root for them while reminding us how sad it is the movies have lost him.

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